The president of the National Rubber Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NARPMAN), Peter Igbinosun, has said that about 640,000 jobs will be created in the rubber value chain within the next 10 years if Nigeria revives its rubber plantations in the country’s six geopolitical zones.
Igbinosun disclosed this in Ilorin at the inauguration of the NARPMAN Kwara State chapter, noting that the association is working with all stakeholders and government agencies at the federal, state and local levels to ensure that rubber development is considered worthwhile in Nigeria.
Natural rubber is a vital agricultural commodity in Nigeria. From the 1960s to the early 1970s, rubber was the fourth most valuable Nigerian agricultural export commodity after cocoa, groundnuts and palm kernels.
Rubber has suffered a significant decline from its pre-eminent position in the ‘70s due to the emergence of the petroleum industry as a major contributor to the national economy.
Tire production facilities were closed down, and local consumption of natural rubber is now confined to the footwear sector due to a decline in the production of rubber.
Igbinosun explained that there is a need to employ 640,000 people directly in plantation projects, which will include the provision of planting materials for a period of 10 years, between 2020 and 2030, in order to plant and re-plant 160,000 hectares.
“In Kwara State, the ten-year project will cost the N8,212,803,667.84 to plant 3,000 hectares. This project in Kwara will employ 15,000 people directly involved in farming activities and 25 others on direct contract and service provision,” Igbinosun said.
Speaking on behalf of Gov. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Murtala Olarewaju stressed the need for diversification within the economy as the country looks for alternative natural resources to crude oil.
In his acceptance speech, Alex Gbenga Ogundele, chairman of the NARPMAN Kwara State chapter, decried the high rate of unemployment in the country, saying the association is focused on economic empowerment, sustainable community development and the alleviation of poverty through rubber cultivation.